Perek a collection of short stories
Perek, a nail that pricks. Minhazuddin feels the prick after coming across a one -legged person while his car waits at the signal. His younger brother Zahirul was one-legged. He died during the war of independence. His mother could never forget the fact that one of her sons was dead. She waited for him for as long as she lived. This is the title story of the book Perek, a collection of short stories. Jharna Rahman a contemporary female writer has earned her name in short stories. Most of her stories revolve around trivial everyday events, which are turned into powerful stories by Jharna's relentless playing with words. She defamiliarises the very intimate and insignificant events that take place in our lives. Perek is one of her most recent books. The writer has a very natural flow in her story telling which makes her narrative reader friendly. The visual effect of the writing is very strong. So strong that when we read the story Perek we can almost see the nail in Minhazuddin's head. The writer has dedicated the book to Saleha Chowdhury who won the Ananya Shahitya Prize in 2009.
There are nine stories in this book, three of which are about our war of Independence. These stories mainly talk about the after effects of the war that shaped the Bengali identity, the war that is the hub of our cultural and social activities. One aspect of Jharna Rahman's writing is her craftsmanship with the Bengali language. Her strong imagery allows the reader to visualise each scenario as if on a live screen. Socio economic problems are depicted aptly in short stories named 'Ekhane Kono Golpo Nei' a tale of a young woman's catharsis of emotion after a dead body is discovered in a sack. The police suspect that she might be related to the dead woman and thus they take her away in the pick up van. Here the story is about the second woman.
A young girl sitting in a corner of a classroom can suppress the presence of seventy-four male students just by being there. A bit of magic realism is used by the author in the story 'Janalar Pashe Bosha Meyeti'. A female teacher fails to notice a lonesome girl in an exam hall even though her male counterparts are fully aware of her presence from the very beginning.
'Gojar Pir', a story with perhaps the strongest theme in the book is about a Hindu woman disguising her identity in order to save her life in the tumultuous time of Bangladesh's history, 1971. 'Amina' comes to Jaheda's hut with a relative's family. She covers her head at all times trying to be the pious wife of a Muslim man. One day Mozammel, Amina's husband catches a big Gojar fish which Jaheda, pregnant woman at an advanced stage refuses to lay her hands on. It is left for Amina to cut the fish. As she prepares to cut it her sari's end which covered her head so neatly falls off and her crimson middle parting is unveiled. Revealing her identity to all who were at the yard. Her real name is Bonolata and she leaves Jaheda's house right then only to be found dead in a pond some two miles away,where her body floats three days later.
'Roth O Doiroth' is like every story in our lives which have double meaning or something that pulls from both sides. And somehow it leaves us going round and round in our eternal confusion.
'Tahminar Khopa', a lovely story about how far a woman would go in order to keep her spouse happy. When she shows off her new hair cut to her husband he comments that she looked better before. She is inspired by one of her younger colleagues who loves trying something new every now and then. The story depicts the friendship between a feminist Moumita and an old fashioned Tahmina.
'Jonpora Manush' is again a story of exploitation of an old woman who had lost all the male members of her family in the war. She is brought to town to work as a maid at an influential man's daughter's house. With the pretext of taking care of her he took away all that she had in the village.
Jharna Rahman reveals in an occasion that once she was asked to write a short story about the war of independence for a special issue, she expressed her doubt if she could do it in such a short period of time. A friend then asked her 'Why won't you be able to write a short story about the war of independence, were you a Razakar?' That triggered her in writing the story 'Gojar Pir' and many more followed. She mentions this in the introduction. She added that that remark would haunt her for a long time to come. Who knows it may even be instrumental in bringing out a collection of stories on the war of Independence.
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